Dusi Klutz Blog 1: Road To The Dusi

2009-01-14 00:00

Witness journalist Matthew le Cordeur is covering the Dusi Marathon... on the river itself.

There have been many roads travelled on to get to the Dusi, but none more so than the road to Greytown, where the upper Umgeni River beckons us. I am sick and tired of that road. Once you’re on it, with the crisp Sunday air striking you in the face, you know there’s only one way for it to end: paddle the miserable river below Albert Falls Dam and pray your boat can survive the rocky and shallow river. I haven’t prayed that much in my life before – even in church.

I don’t think I would have paddled the tedious river if I didn’t have a wing man. Wisely, we don’t paddle together, because Jono Bailey is a lot fitter than I am and he’d probably get a little annoyed during my flat-water day dreaming spells. No, Jono’s role has been to bang on my window at some un-Godly hour and ensure I get “to” the race, let alone “on time”.

Although the upper Umgeni can get quite tiresome in its flatness, there is always the added excitement of crocodiles. Yes, I know, they’re probably tame little monitors, but Jono’s mom Jill doesn’t think so. Her dog was swimming while canoeists paddled their last few strokes of the day when all of sudden Jill noticed a “crocodile” swimming up to it. No Serengeti here I am afraid, for nHlophe the Labrador was wise enough to swim doggy style back to the bank. “It was so close,” Jill said anxiously as I pulled my boat from the river. “And it was rather big, too.” Such is the excitement for spectators.

Jono has done well for himself as a guppy. I say “guppy” with glee, but that’s where the glee dries up. You see, I’ve done two Dusi’s so I should be more ahead of him. Not so - he's three batches ahead of me for the Dusi start. Granted we have in between us some K2s (two person canoe) who should all be at the back… way back.

When we started paddling, I was always in batches ahead of Jono, because of my past experience. But as the results at the end of the races kept revealing, he was at least five minutes ahead of me. So, I wasn’t surprised the day he proudly pointed to his batch number higher the ladder than mine. It hasn’t been the same since.

Now as much as the Umgeni was poor in its excitement, it wasn’t our worst river. That prize goes to an empty uMsunduzi River during the Pope’s Challenge. We passed out from exhaustion as soon as we sat down in our car. It had just been too much. Ironically, the race I loved the most was also on the uMsunduzi, a supremely bulkier one – that was the 50 Miler. If the Dusi is anything like it, we’ll all merrily bounce our way down to Durban. Let’s just hope the water hyacinth is not too bad this year. It will be.

The pain about canoeing, besides my numb bum and lazy feet, is ensuring you have seconds. These unique characters are people idiotic enough to “volunteer” to drive you to the start of a race, clap you on and fetch you at the end. They tend to be people with no choice: Girlfriend; mother, father or sibling. You can understand then, why I was so irritated with Jono for not having a girlfriend. Mine was getting a little wary of it all. So wary, in fact, that she jumped on a plane for Australia.

Jono has since got the hint and found true love, once again, and Katie has returned from Australia, still a little dizzy with jet lag. Strategically, she probably won’t be up for most of the Dusi because it will be night time in her mind. Michelle needs to make up for lost time, in any case. I wish her all the luck. And I am sure she feels similar sentiments towards Jono and I. God knows, we need it.

Click here to read Matt's next blog.

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